Airbus A320neo to enter service in 2016

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Airbus has confirmed the launch of its A320neo, or new engine option, for entry into service in 2016.

Airlines will have a choice between the CFM International LEAP-X and Pratt & Whitney's PurePower PW1100G powerplants. The A320neo will also incorporate "sharklet" wing-tips that help to save fuel, says the airframer.

"The A320neo will not only deliver significant fuel savings of up to 15%, which represents up to 3,600t of CO2 savings annually per A320neo. In addition, A320neo customers will benefit from a double-digit reduction in NOx emissions, reduced engine noise, lower operating costs and up to 500nm (950 km) more range or two tonnes more payload," adds the EADS subsidiary.

The new engine option is offered on the A321, A320 and A319 models, and will require limited modifications primarily to the wing and pylon areas, says Airbus. The A320neo will have over 95% airframe commonality with the standard A320 family, it adds.

The company sees a market potential of 4,000 A320neo family aircraft over the next 15 years. It has, however, not named any launch customers yet.

"We are confident that the A320neo will be a great success across all markets and with all types of operators, offering them maximum benefit with minimum change. We are leveraging a reliable, mature aircraft and are making it even more efficient and environmentally friendly," said Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO.

Airbus says that it seeks to provide customers with the latest and most eco-efficient technologies to improve aircraft performance and airline operations, while reducing the environmental impact.

"Over the past months, Airbus has taken the time to carefully assess and weigh up the benefits of the A320neo business case with the allocation of the highly skilled engineering resources needed, while at the same time securing the engineering skills required on other Airbus aircraft programmes," says the company.

The company is working to ramp up the production rates on its A380 aircraft programme, and is developing the A350 medium-range widebody that is due to enter into service in 2013.

The Pratt & Whitney PW1524G engine is scheduled for an entry into service in 2013 on the Bombardier CSeries CS100, the first of two 110 to 149-seat models offered by the Canadian aircraft maker. These will compete with the A318, A319, Boeing 737--600 and -700.

CFM is set to introduce its Leap-X1C on the 160-seat Commercial Aircraft Corp of China C919, which will see its first revenue service in 2016 as well.

"We are obviously honored to be part of this exciting (A320neo) programme," says Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM International. "This is a natural extension of the long and very successful relationship we have enjoyed with Airbus since the inception of the A320 family program in the early 1980s. CFM pledges its full support to the A320neo's development and certification and to its successful entry into commercial service."

The Airbus decision comes after a protracted internal debate over the viability of re-engining the company's best selling models. Boeing still has yet to announce its future plans for the 737. Both companies, however, have been boosting production to record levels to satisfy global demand for their short-haul aircraft.

Airbus plans to continue offering A320s with the CFM56-5B or International Aero Engines V2500 powerplants.